BOOK REVIEW: V is for Vegan, an ABC book with a message of compassion

V is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind
Ruby Roth

Surveys indicate that as many as 3 to 6% of Americans identify as vegans. Surprisingly, there are relatively few vegan picture books for plant-based families, and I am always happy to find books in this category.

V is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind, written for children three to seven, has a message about compassion and vegan living for each letter of the alphabet, and I couldn’t support the message of the book more. The rhyming ABCs are sometimes funny, educational, and at times unexpected.

V is for Vegan Collage

While I adored the text, the illustrations, while admittedly objectively cute, were not to my taste, and I though the type used, a child-like handwriting font, was not as clear as it could have been though I understand the choice behind it.

Still, this is a wonderful book and belongs in the library of every vegan family–with or without children!

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BOOK REVIEW: No-Meat Athlete, a practical guide to beginning a plant-based running program

No Meat Athlete, Revised and Expanded: A Plant-Based Nutrition and Training Guide for Every Fitness Level—Beginner to Beyond
by Matt Frazier

Frazier, Matt - No Meat AthleteWhether experienced athletes or true novices, vegans and aspiring vegans will find No Meat Athlete an excellent reference. Author Matt Frazier had tried and kept failing to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Yet, after transitioning to a vegan diet, even while he just recovered from a knee injury, Frazier improved on his personal best by ten minutes and finally achieved his goal of qualifying for Boston. He believes it was his vegan diet that allowed him this success, and his book shares his techniques.

No Meat Athlete contains two sections, one that covers plant-based nutrition for athletes, the other offering a training strategy. The first discusses problems with our modern diet and describes how vegan diets can surmount these issues. Based on current science, guest writer Leo Babauta outlines strategies for successfully changing habits of behavior, such as adopting a plant-free diet. Frazier offers ten food rules, such as choosing whole foods and drinking smoothies. (I think I follow 0% of these rules.) How to approach a vegan diet and how it relates to vegan athletes’ needs are discussed in detail before turning to cooking techniques.

Sixty recipes in categories such as “Substantial Soups and Salads,” “Main-Event Meals,” and “Sneaky-Healthy Desserts” are optimized for athletes. Frazier provides a personal introduction to each dish which made them more interesting to me. Though many of the recipes look tasty, they seem more complicated and labor intensive than I prefer, though I think I can handle the low-ingredient count S’Nuts and Simple Indian Street Bread. While I know these types of books don’t traditionally have photographs, that didn’t mean I didn’t miss having them.

I was hopeful the second section, Running on Plants, would inspire me. While I am well-intentioned, I’m a couch potato at heart. Frazier provides a number of practical tips to making running a habit and learning to love it. Honestly, these approaches are good for any new runners, vegan or not and make running long races seem attainable. Robert Cheeke, a vegan bodybuilder, contributed a chapter on a 12-week strength training plan. Frazier includes detailed training plans for 5Ks, 10 Ks, half marathons, and marathons. These resources make even me feel like adopting a running program is possible.

While the nutritional information in part I is relevant for athletes of all stripes, the programs outlined in part II are geared toward runners, so the word “athlete” in the title is a bit of an over-generalization, though No-Meat Runner certainly doesn’t have the same ring! Instead, this book should appeal to active people interested in adopting a plant-based diet, to vegans (and others) interested in how to develop a running practice, or people who fall in both categories. I’m not sure I can overcome my couch potato inertia, but if any book could do it, this is the one!

I was especially pleased to see the author is donating a portion of his royalties to one of the greatest non-profit organizations in the country, The Farm Sanctuary.

Thanks to Netgalley and Fair Winds Press / Quarto Publishing Group for providing an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

BOOK REVIEW: The Vegan 8

The Vegan 8With 100 delicious recipes, The Vegan 8 by Brandi Doming offers simple, healthy dishes made from eight ingredients or less (not including salt, pepper, or water).Beautiful photographs accompany the scrumptious recipes making the book a feast for the eyes, not just the palate.

Right away, the cookbook demonstrates its uniqueness. The “My Pantry” section is different than other cookbooks providing comprehensive information on spices, non-dairy milk and yogurt, liquid flavorings, flours, nut butter, and starches. Here, Doming indicates which are available commercially and recommended brands and which ones best made from scratch. Many of the descriptions included insight that was new and fascinating to me!

Every chapter is filled with enticing recipes written in a conversational style and labeled nut-free, gluten-free, or oil free as relevant along with the expected prep and cook time. The dishes utilize ingredients in interesting and unconventional ways I had never imagined before such as Pizza Quesadillas using mashed potatoes. Doming emphasizes non-commercial food for the most part but when an ingredient needs to be purchased, she recommends brands and where to purchase them.

Notes for recipes provide very clear information about what substitutions are possible or not advisable and give insight into what gives the dish its signature characteristics such as creaminess. Tips offer ways to enhance recipes, rework them based on allergies (or lack thereof), or to make them more kid-friendly.

I am a disaster in the kitchen, and some of the recipes intimidated me a little because of the preparations involved (or the need for a Vitamix), but I was still very interested in trying them. While I found dishes in every chapter that I wanted to attempt (the soups look particularly creamy and the sides delicious, particularly Almond-Coated Asparagus with Dijon-Tahini Sauce), I thought the Easy Entrees and Staples chapters were most relevant to me. The chickpea dishes–Protein-Packed Curry Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Rounds and Spicy and Smoky Chickpeas in Creamy Tomato Sauce–immediately caught my attention. The Ultimate BBQ Bean Ball Sub looks like a tasty sandwich from one of my favorite vegan restaurants. From Staples, I wanted to make the Emergency BBQ Sauce and the Sesame Teriyaki Sauce posthaste. The Desserts chapter offers options for every taste–chocolate lovers, peanut butter fanatics, fruit fans, or gingerbread enthusiasts.

This cookbook will delight vegans and non-vegans alike and provide strategies for making tastier, healthier dishes.

Thank you to Netgalley and Hachette Book Group for providing an electronic advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

Vegan Yack Attack on the Go

Vegan Yack Attack on the Go: Plant-Based Recipes for Your Fast-Paced Vegan Lifestyle

Jackie Sobon

©️2018

Thank you to Netgalley and Quarto Publishing for providing an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I am a disaster in the kitchen. I don’t enjoy cooking or baking, and I often screw up recipes. When I saw this book, with a mission to provide “a wide variety of meals that are fun, tasty, and quick to put together,” I thought, “This book gets me!”

Like many vegan cookbooks, the introduction begins with a list of essential pantry staples and necessary kitchen equipment (nothing a normally stocked kitchen is likely to be without).

Vegan Yack Attack on the Go includes a number of delicious-sounding recipes paired with stunning food photography. I haven’t had quiche since I became vegan over ten years ago, and the Crustless Quiche Bites caught my attention.

I would like to eat some of the White Bean Rosemary Hummus this minute! For me, the thirty minute or less chapter is perfect…One Pot Pasta, Summer Stew, and Butternut Mac and Trees are on my menu. The Baked Balsamic Tofu over Mixed Greens makes my mouth water.

The cookbook includes food I would never image but want to make: Campfire Banana Splits, Pastry-Wrapped Carrot Dogs, and Peanut Butter S’mores Dip are treats to take to barbeques or pot luck dinners. Few cookbooks devote a chapter to these dishes that can be taken to foodcentric social events, and it’s nice to have a wide selection here.

The instructions for the dishes are clear and simple. I think even I could be successful following these recipes! None of the ingredients seem obscure or difficult to find in a grocery store. What makes the cookbook unique, though, is the emphasis on simplicity, meal planning and making in advance, and portability.

Sobon provides guides that appear with each recipe: less than ten ingredients (definitely up my alley), one-pan (all right!), portable, make-ahead, and sugar/soy/nut/oil/gluten free.

I definitely think this will be a much-used cookbook in our house!

Frozen Banana Bites

frozen chocolate banana bitesOn hot and humid days like today, a cool treat provides some relief from the oppressive air. Something new I tried recently was making frozen banana bites. If I made it, truly absolutely anyone can do it.

Ingredients

Bananas

Peanut Butter

Vegan Chocolate

Directions

Cut bananas into slices about 1/4th of an inch. Put a glob of peanut butter on a banana slice and top with a second slice. Put into freezer until solid. (You could experiment with waiting to freeze the bites until after covered with chocolate, but mine were too unstable to cover without freezing first.)

Melt chocolate. I used about half a bag of Enjoy Life Mega Chunks and melted the chunks in the microwave. The melted chocolate was a little thick, so I diluted it with water. Using a fork, I submerged the bites into the melted chocolate and then placed them in a plastic container. They fit in a single layer. If you have a smaller container, use wax paper to keep bites from freezing together.

Put back in freezer for several hours.

Enjoy!

frozen banana chocolate bites